AGU Centennial Grand Challenge: Volcanoes and Deep Carbon Global CO2 Emissions From Subaerial Volcanism—Recent Progress and Future Challenges
Quantifying the global volcanic CO2 output from subaerial volcanism is key for a better understanding of rates and mechanisms of carbon cycling in and out of our planet and their consequences for the long-term evolution of Earth's climate over geological timescales. Although having been the focus of intense research since the early 1990s, and in spite of recent progress, the global volcanic CO2 output remains inaccurately known. Here we review past developments and recent progress and examine limits and caveats of our current understanding and challenges for future research. We show that CO2 flux measurements are today only available for ~100 volcanoes (cumulative measured flux, 44 Tg CO2/year), implying that extrapolation is required to account for the emissions of the several hundred degassing volcanoes worldwide. Recent extrapolation attempts converge to indicate that persistent degassing through active crater fumaroles and plumes releases ~53-88 Tg CO2/year, about half of which is released from the 125 most actively degassing subaerial volcanoes (36.4 ± 2.4 Tg CO2/year from strong volcanic gas emitters, Svge). The global CO2 output sustained by diffuse degassing via soils, volcanic lakes, and volcanic aquifers is even less well characterized but could be as high as 83 to 93 Tg CO2/year, rivaling that from the far more manifest crater emissions. Extrapolating these current fluxes to the past geological history of the planet is challenging and will require a new generation of models linking subduction parameters to magma and volatile (CO2) fluxes.